SUDDENLY, a ghost of the past appeared to be staring at Alaska again.
The Aces found themselves in a 0-2 hole in the 2018 PBA Governors Cup Finals against the Magnolia Hotshots after a 77-71 loss on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The win had Magnolia moving halfway from bagging its first title since the 2014 grand slam and inflicting another championship heartbreaker for Alaska.
Despite the scenario, coach Alex Compton is not about to wave the white flag yet.
"If this is a three-game series, it's over. But I don't think this is over yet," said a defiant Compton.
Alaska is in its fifth finals appearance under Compton, although it lost the first four including the 2016 Philippine Cup where the Aces blew a 3-0 lead against San Miguel.
But instead of looking back, the Alaska coach vowed to prepare the Aces better, starting with Sunday's Game 3 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
"I tell you though, we're gonna keep on going and keep on going. We're gonna battle," said the Alaska coach. "So they (Aces) be ready for tomorrow (Saturday).They better be ready to work (tomorrow)."
As to what led to the Aces' back-to-back losses in the title series, Compton pointed out to two factors - turnovers and free throws.
In the Game 2 setback alone, Alaska committed 26 turnovers, including eight in the final period.
"Getting 25, 26 turnovers. I think that's the prime story of the first two games of the series," said Compton.
"If we turn the ball over 26 times, that's just huge," added the Alaska coach, who nonetheless credited Magnolia for living up to its billing as the league's top defensive team.
And then the free throws.
Alaska was only given 11 foul shots, converting eight of them. In contrast, Magnolia was awarded 18 freebies and made half of them.
Compton felt Magnolia's guards are getting leeways from the game officials.
"I've not yet once publicly complained about officiating, but those guys fouled a lot. And they don't get a call for it," said Compton, singling out pesky defenders Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon.
"I'm all for good defense, and I know those guys are great defenders. But a foul is a foul," stressed the Alaska coach.
"If you're karate chopping, pushing somebody, or you're leaving your foot so you'll trip a ball handler, it's a foul. And it's a big part of the game, and for whatever reason, they didn't want to call it."